Love is not a feeling. Love is a determination and a relationship that is sustained by an exercise of the will.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? Well, I’ve just been praying for the folk who listen to this broadcast and praying frankly for myself that God would fill my heart with his Spirit and put His love, and His truth and His blessing, even into the tone of my voice. You can tell a lot by the tone of a person’s voice, can you not? I tell you. (Laughs)
I think back to childhood days when someone would call me, you know, and they would be, “Robert”, and I would keep on playing and then the call would come a little more stridently “Robert.” (Laughs) And I would delay a little longer and then finally the tone of the voice would change and there would be some gravel in it. And I knew I better respond. Oh, yes, you tell a lot by what’s in the voice. And so I pray that God might put His love and His blessing and His power, even into the voice that is used to give out the Word of God in these broadcasts.
It’s your good friend, Bob Cook, and we’re looking at Ephesians chapter 1. And the last time we got together we were looking verse 4, which said that “God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” I explained to you that for his foundation, the world has in it the idea of tossing out or laying down something in the original Greek verb kata ballo.
And you have the visualization of a great God who in creation just measures things out. The Bible says he measured the stars with a span. A span is a distance between the end of your thumb and the end of your little finger when they’re both extended. That’s an anthropomorphism for what God did. He did the creation without all of the effort that you and I might put in to something like that. He just laid it out and there it was. And before He ever did that, He planned for you, your life, your needs were in His plan before the foundation of the world.
Now, what did He plan? He planned that we should be Holy without blame before Him in love. God’s plan involves our relationship with Him, that takes in the word Holy, and our relationship with others, and that takes in the word without blame. He wants you to be right with him and right with people: just oversimplified the matter. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself; same idea.
All through the Bible, you’ll have that dualism; get right with God, get right with people. Love God, love people. Holy and without blame before Him in love. Now that’s where we were the last time we got together.
And we just had started talking about this matter of holy and without blame in love. What is it that we’re talking about? We’re talking about divine love as the very essence of what characterizes our Christian life. I began to think about that and here are some of the thoughts that came to me in that regard. Love is commanded to us. Thou shall love Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might.
Deuteronomy 6:5, “I command,” and Deuteronomy 10:12 says that it’s required of us to love God. Our Jesus gave a commandment in John 13:34, “a new commandment gave out to you that you love one another”, so it’s love to God and love to people and it’s a command. In our culture we think of love as more of an emotional something. We talk about falling in love.
Well, that has over tones of erotic love, romantic love. And the sad thing about it is that if people base a marriage, for example, on romantic love only, they find that by and by those fires burn low and there isn’t much left with the cold embers of memories of yesterday. And so, then, they say, “Well, we don’t love each other anymore so we will break up.” That’s happening roughly half of all the homes in the U.S. today, breaking up. Nearly half of all the marriages end in divorce. It’s a sad fact, isn’t it? But that’s how it is. Largely because we don’t understand what it really means to love. Love is not only a romantic feeling. Love is an act of the will that determines your relationship with another person. It is active, voluntary seeking of the best for another person.
By love, said Paul and Galatians, serve one another. Faith works by love. Your relationship to God is determined upon your heart’s willingness to say, “I will love the Lord,” and your relationship to people is determined by your voluntary step of willing to love another person. Now, if that’s too heavy for you, you may not receive it. You may shuck it off. You may say, “Oh Cook you’re off base.” But you’ll know, if you think about it, that I’m telling you the truth.
Love is not a feeling. Love is a determination and a relationship that is sustained by an exercise of the will. And when you continue to seek the best for another person, you are in the very best sense exhibiting love for that person. So it’s commanded and then it’s provided for us in the Romans 5:5, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.” When you become a Christian, a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes in to dwell in your life.
Now it is your duty, according to Ephesians 5:18, to open all the doors in your heart’s house and allow the Spirit of God to fill you, be not drunk with wine wherein it’s excess but be filled with the Spirit. So that’s your duty and something that you must voluntarily respond to, but when you open your heart to Christ and make him your Lord and he becomes then by faith your savior, the Holy Spirit of God comes in to dwell in your life, in your heart house, we say.
And he then, it says in Romans 5:5, “Shed abroad in our hearts God’s wonderful divine and Calvary love.” Love is provided. You don’t have to work it up. You don’t have to work it up. Now, anything I tell you, I’ve been there and I know that every time I’ve waited before God and until my eyes were wet and my heart was tender, my sins had been confesses and my will has bent before him, really praying and really yielding to God, every time I’ve spent time with God that way, I have come away from the place of prayer with a vast and ineffable sense of God’s love in my heart, for those around me and for the lost everywhere.
The Holy Spirit of God does that. The Bible says so and he always lives up to his billing, one may say. The Bible says He sheds it abroad in our hearts. What you and I have to do is to wait before God until He has chance to do it. There’s so much debris in our spiritual courtyard that has to be cleared out. And when, finally, the way is clear and God is enabled to work unimpeded, you become aware of His wonderful, wonderful love.
Love is provided and that, of course, love gets into action. I quoted Galatians 5:6, through your “faith which worketh by love,” and you would think immediately of 2 Corinthians 5:14, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” The word constrain means makes us do what we do. The love of Christ makes us do what we do. The love that God puts in your heart, divine love, agape love, working in your life makes a difference. You see, it’s an interesting verb, the love of Christ holds us along with. It’s a combination of words; “sun”, meaning with, and “echo” to have, has a long width. It means that it maintains it; it makes us do what we’re doing. It constrains us.
Another place, speaking of the Lord Jesus and His disciple, they said they “constrained him to stay with them.” What does that mean? They urged him and it resulted in action. That’s what God does; He applies the gentle pressure of His love that results in a difference in your conduct.
Now, when that is true, what we’ve been just saying now, what happens? He says we’re holy and without blame before Him in love. When God’s love work in your life your relationship with Him is right and, thus, you have a holy life. And when God works in your heart through Calvary love, your relationship with people is right and, thus, you have a blameless life. You’re not getting in the way of anybody, you’re not hindering them, you’re not putting a stumbling block in their way, but you are helping them along the way.
Alright now, this is all under the heading of “spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ”, according, verse 4, He chose us, then verse 5, under the heading of spiritual blessings, “predestinated us unto the adoption of children to Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Now, to choose somebody means to pick him out, to predestine a person means to make plans for the person you’ve picked out. And so we’re faced with the fact that God has plans for us. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of good not of evil to give you a desired end.
We have God saying through the prophet, “the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.” “In all thy ways, acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” “The Lord shall guide thee continually and thou shalt be like a watered garden whose waters fail not.” What is this? Guidance? “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him.”
See, both Old and New Testaments are full of promises that say God has plans for you and He will work them out if you let Him. John chapter 6 has our savior asking a question of His disciples, “where are we going to buy bread that these may eat? This he said to prove him for he himself knew what he would do.” God has His plans laid; He knows what He wants to do. So predestined means God made plans for you because He knew what’s going to happen in your life.
Don’t stumble over this idea of predestination. God chose you because He knew what was going to happen down through the centuries. And foreknowledge, absolute knowledge of God, He’s omniscient, He knows it all. And so, He knew that you would respond to the message of the gospel. Because of that, He chose you and then He made plans for you. Before He ever threw the stars out into space, He made plans for you, John Q. Citizen. And then those plans involved belonging to His family, the adoption of children to Himself.
We’ve been adopted into the very family of God. And so Paul says, “now that we’re children and then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, the Spirit himself witnesses with us that we are the sons of God and if sons then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” And that’s Paul over in Romans 8 and John, of course, in 1 John 2 says, or 1 John 3, “Behold what manner of love of Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God and such we are. Therefore, the world knoweth us not because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him.” Well, time has gone.
Father God, have your way with us and grant us Thy perfect love in our hearts, I pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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